March 10, 1994
Digest: (1) An acting village justice, who is employed full time as a professor at a college of the SUNY system, generally may preside over matters involving students, so long as there is no impropriety and the judge has no personal bias or prejudice concerning the party or personal knowledge of any disputed evidentiary fact. But the judge should not preside over cases involving students enrolled in his/her classes and should disqualify himself or herself in such cases. (2) If the matter involves ticketing of SUNY students not in the judges classes by the campus public safety officers or the issuing of search warrants for dormitory rooms, the judge ordinarily is not disqualified. In special circumstances, when the judge is disqualified, the remittal procedure may be available under section 100.3(d).
Rules: 22 NYCRR Sec. 100.5(h); 22 NYCRR Sec. 100.2(a) & (b); 22 NYCRR Sec. 100.3(c); 22 NYCRR Sac. 100.3(d)
The inquirer is an elected town justice who is currently serving as the acting village justice in order to assist the current village justice, and who is employed full-time as a professor at a college belonging to the SUNY system. Civil or criminal matters involving students of this SUNY college are processed through the village court in question, and thus would involve the judge on those days he/she sits as acting village justice. The judge asks, generally, as to any limitations concerning potential court appearances of the students, and, specifically, whether he/she can arraign students who have been ticketed by the college public safety officers and sign search warrants for their dormitory rooms.
The private employment of a part-time judge shall not be incompatible with the judicial office held and shall not conflict or interfere with the proper performance of the judge's duties. (22 NYCRR 100.5[h], Rules of the Chief Administrator.) Proper judicial conduct requires that the judge avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety, and that the judge conduct himself or herself in a manner promoting public confidence. Allowing certain relationships to influence the judgment and the conduct of the judge is prohibited. (22 NYCRR 100.2[a], [b], Rules of Chief Administrator.) If the judge has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party, or personal knowledge of any disputed evidentiary fact concerning the proceeding, the judge shall disqualify himself or herself when his or her impartiality might reasonably be questioned. (22 NYCRR Section 100.3[c], Rules of Chief Administrator).
In answer to this inquirer's specific questions:
1. With the exception of students known by the judge to be enrolled currently in the judge's classes, generally, the judge may preside over matters involving SUNY students, so long as the judge remains impartial and adheres to the rules of the Chief Administrator. Under no circumstances should the judge sit in cases of students enrolled in his/her classes, and he/she should disqualify himself or herself in such cases.
2. When SUNY students who have been ticketed by the college's public safety officers appear before the judge or when entertaining applications for warrants to search dormitory rooms, the inquirer may preside (with the exception of students who the judge knows to be enrolled currently in the judge's classes), provided he/she believes he/she can be impartial. In special situations not involving students enrolled in the judge's classes where disqualification otherwise right be required, the remittal procedure under section 100.3(d) might be available.